Ripples on Bon Tempe | Mark Lindsay

A lake in summer. The hot sun beats down on my neck, burning into my collective memory of past summer suns. Walking along a dusty path I see the shimmer of heat waves as they rise ahead. Then, I hear the sloshing of the lake's shoreline. Water dances and laughs at me, beckoning me towards it. Like a fountain of youth it sends me into a dream.

The water carries sounds from the opposite shore. Children are fishing and laughing and splashing one another. Adults are telling them to stop. The deepness of a man's voice interrupts silly banter. It is useless. The laughing begins again. There is no cure for a fountain of youth. There is no cure for summer. The echoes across the water reach my memories. I stand and remember the smell of water. The smell of suntan lotion. The smell of lake muck.

The small New Jersey town of my youth had four lakes. Or was it five? There were also ponds and the river. Almost everyone in the town identified with one of these bodies of water. It's what united us. It's what divided us. In summer we left the classroom and then separated for three months. We went to our separate corners of the town. We each went to the water. Our water. Months later we'd reunite with the tales of a lost summer.

I snap out of my dream. The lapping water still calls. Reflections dance, my neck is yet hot. I shake it off and feel the old bones in my legs. They don't bounce they way they once did. I rub the leather of my neck. Just when did I become the echo of the deep-voiced adult? I wonder if it's the same back there in my small town, now 3000 miles and a lifetime away. Does summer have the same magic that it once did?